Remember the well established Norwegian heavy metal band Highland Glory? Most of the members have now formed a new band called Angel Heart and they are now ready to release their debut "Angel Heart" on Mighty Music 18th of May.We asked the guitarist and keyboard player Lars Andre Larsen a few questions about the new album.
Hallo. First of I would like to congratulate you on your new album. Could you start out by introducing yourself and tell us what part in the band you have?
Lars: Hello, thanks a lot! I am Lars Andre Larsen, I play guitars, keyboards and write the songs in Angel Heart.
Why did you choose this title for the record?
Lars: This album is self- titled (Angel Heart). In general I prefer the album to be named after a song on the album. But we did not think any of the titles were good as an album title. And if I did come up with a good album title afterwards, I would not “waste it” for just an album title, but make a song of it. Self-titled is still okay for a debut. Our next album will be titled.
When did you start working on this album, how long did the process take from the first step to the final product? Was it hard to write new material for this record or did it come naturally for you?
Lars: It has been a long journey. I left the band Highland Glory after 10 years (as did the singer Trine and the drummer Morten) in 2011. I did not have a plan for what to do, but I knew I would make music. After leaving Highland Glory, I became very creative, wrote a lot of music, riffs and ideas. It was, and still is, easy for me to write music. I struggled a bit with the lyrics, but learned as I wrote. I thought, maybe I could make a solo album, and have Trine sing my songs. But also Morten heard my new ideas, loved them, and wanted to play with me again. That made me very happy, so why not start a band again. All songs were finished in 2012-13, we started recording 2014. Since we do not make our living from music, we use our spare time, so it took a while to finnish recording. And then some time to mix and find a record company. Luckily Mighty Music liked our music and believes in us! We did not have a bass player at the time, but I asked a good friend and bassplayer, Øystein. He was available, and said yes to join in.
Where did you record the album, and who produced it? How did the cooperation go between the band and the producer?
Lars: We recorded in Toproom Studio (Mayhem, Enslaved, Borknagar and other well-known Norwegian acts have made records in this studio), We know this studio from recording with both Highland Glory and Phoenix Rizing. It is a studio a quiet place in the countryside, were I feel comfortable working. We produced the album ourself, but the owner / sound engineer of the studio, Børge Finstad, helped us find our sound, he understand what we are looking for. He also mixed the album.
Are you trying to express something through your music?
Lars: I like every song to have a mood and a feel, happy, or maybe melancholic. I cannot force myself to write music, I must wait for inspiration to come, but when that happens, everything is easy. Usually a melody appears in my head, and I must record it before it disappears from my mind. I can even be asleep, and suddenly wake up with a musical idea. The song “Burning Desire” is a result of that. I try to make as good melodies as I can. Also good riffs and some power is important. As a big fan of 80`s hard rock / metal / AOR, I also love to make, big, catchy choruses. We feel we make music form our hearts.
Since we are closing in on the release date of the album, how has the response from the press been?
Lars: So far we have read many very good, some almost overwhelming, reviews. We are very happy with that! You never know what to expect. There will always be people who love You, and always be people who don`t. That is the first thing a musician must learn. But so far, great feedback!
You've already released the first song(s) online for your fans to hear, how has the new material been received from the fans so far?
Lars: We receive great response after release of the single “I don`t need Love”. The fans seem to like our first single. They also tell us they appreciate the beautiful violin work from Sareeta (She has playd with Ram-Zet, Solefald, Borkangar and many others). When I wrote this song, Morten (drums) immediately said, “this song needs a violin”. We were happy Sareeta said yes to be a guest on our album. The song is heavy, yet it is a kind of power ballad everyone is able to like.
Who did the artwork and what is the idea behind it?
Lars: I saw a painting at a good friends place, which I really fell for. It was of a beautiful bird, You could let Your mind go and put a lot of meanings in that painting, love, hope, mystic etc. It was his daughter, Vanessa Helen Jarl, who was the artist behind that painting. We asked her if we could use her painting for our album cover. Luckily she said yes. Our photographer, IP Maesstro made contact with a cover artist he know, Slobicus Doomicus. He mixed picture of the bird with background of clouds and light, and made the final cover artwork come alive.
How would you compare the material on this release to your previous material?
Lars: In the Highland Glory we often made the music together, so I wrote about 1/3 of the music. I have to say, we are proud of what we did I n Highland Glory. But this time I have written all the music myself. So of course the material is colored by my taste and feel. It has been very satisfying to write the songs just the way I like. Angel Heart are slightly more hard rock than heavy metal. Still I guess the music is hard enough for metal-fans to like.
What kind of stuff did you grow up listening to, and what kind new music do you listen to these days?
Lars: At 8- 9 or so, I discovered, and loved Kiss, Iron Maiden and AC/DC, this was in `81 or so. I became obsessed with this kind of music. I used to visit elder youths in our small northern village, who owned a lot of hard rock LP`s. I soon discovered bands like Saxon, Leppard, Priest, Rainbow, Van Halen, Heart, Journey and a lot more bands. It was a great time to be a young hard-rocker. So much gold were released in the 80`s! And this is the music and the bands I still listen to today. I still buy a lot of music, both LP`s and CD`s, I am old fashion, I prefer the physical product. When I check out new bands, it is bands in the hard rock / metal genre, I haven`t changed since the 80`s. New bands I love are for example Eclipse, Circus Maximus, Devin Townsend, One Desire, etc. If I don`t listen to Hard rock / metal I might listen to Abba, Mike Oldfield or classical stuff like Grieg, Smetana, Rachmaninov, or Beethoven, who is my favourite of the classical composers.
Have any of these bands been source of inspiration for the album?
Lars: All of them, in a way, but no song is directly inspired by them, their music is just in my heart. I sometimes hear a song, and I think: “I want to make a song like that”. But when I try to do that, I usually end up with something totally different. But that is OK, if the song is good. Most of the music comes from a feeling I have at the moment. The big sound of Mutt Lange-productions have been an influence. And, by the way, Abba is an inspiration for many of the choir arrangements, I love the way Abba arranged their music, it is really clever stuff!
In your time as musicians, what is your biggest musical achievement so far and what has been your biggest experience through the years?
Lars: In Highland Glory, I think playing in Germany was the most fun. Also playing support-gigs for Fish and Kamelot was a great experience. Now, having made an album, and I have written all the music and lyrics, (with good help form my band-mates, I must say) is my biggest personal achievement.
Could we expect any European tour and maybe see the band in action here in Denmark any time soon?
Lars: At the moment we are not a full band, we are searching for a keyboardplayer to be able to play live. But when pieces fall into place, we will play concerts. I do not see a full European tour at this moment, it will be to expensive for us. But we hope we can play festivals in Europe. It is not that far for us to go to Denmark, we will surely play in Denmark soon.
What would be the ultimate tour, festival or show for you to play at?
Lars: The Ultimate festival would be Sweden Rock Festival, I have visited them 10 years. And of course Wacken,as the biggest, or maybe Roskilde, as a really classic one!. It is a dream, but You never know what will happen. A tour supporting a bigger of our favourite bands is also a dream, and of course our own headline tour.
Do you have any breaking news with the bands?
Lars: Not really big news, but for the people who like our first album, I can say I have written more than enough music for the second album already. Our singer Trine, have written her first, beautiful lyrics to one of the new songs.
That's all we've get this time, do you have anything that you'd like to add or say?
Lars: I would really like to thank Trine, Morten and Øystein, I would not have made it without them. They improve my musical ideas and come up with ideas for melody and arrangements I don`t think of. And they are my best friends! Also our photographer, IP Maesstro have been a great support for me, he is also a musician, known from Lunar Pocket, among others. He has encouraged me and given me advices along this journey.
We would like to say thanks a lot for your time. And we wish all you guys all the luck in the future whatever it might bring.
Lars: Thanks a lot, Rock on!!